Happy Thursday! Today I have a review of Michael Farris Smith’s latest work of literary fiction, The Fighter, now available from Little, Brown and Company.
My first book by Michael Farris Smith, The Fighter, is a gift in the form of a new author to love.
Jack has lost it all many times over. This time it’s the land and historic antebellum home he inherited from his beloved foster mother, Maryann.
Jack is a fighter. For decades he has fought bare-handed and has incurred multiple concussions, which are starting to affect his cognition. On top of that, he self-medicates with painkillers. He keeps a notebook of names to help him remember who is a friend or an enemy; that’s how difficult life is for him right now.
Jack is working hard to reclaim his property when he is knocked to the ground again by a gambler who takes all his stashed money. He then is introduced to Annette, a free spirit, who promises to help him make things right again.
At this point, Jack is losing his mind and is hardly standing on his own two feet- literally and figuratively…but he has no choice but to fight one more time to earn back what is rightfully his. He is absolutely fighting for his life.
The Fighter is gritty, dark, brutal, and violent with a threadbare honesty and authenticity that brings Jack’s story to life. There is a strong sense of time and place in Jack’s world, seeing things how he experiences them. The writing is powerful and full of suffering and utter sacrifice juxtaposed with redemption. Chock-full of interesting characters, Michael Farris Smith is a born storyteller, and I was wholeheartedly invested in Jack as a character and wishing for positive outcome for him. The harsh brutality was matched with a tenderness to the emotions, and that, in my opinion, cannot be beat.
Thank you to Little, Brown for the complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
Critically acclaimed novelist Michael Farris Smith, “one of the best writers of his generation” (Tom Franklin), delivers a blistering novel of violence and deliverance, set against the mythic backdrop of the Mississippi Delta.
The acres and acres of fertile soil, the two-hundred-year-old antebellum house, all gone. And so is the woman who gave it to Jack, the foster mother only days away from dying, her mind eroded by dementia, the family legacy she entrusted to Jack now owned by banks and strangers. And Jack’s mind has begun to fail, too. The decades of bare-knuckle fighting are now taking their toll, as concussion after concussion forces him to carry around a stash of illegal painkillers and a notebook of names that separate friend from foe and remind him of dangerous haunts to avoid.
But in a single twisted night, he is derailed. Hijacked by a sleazy gambler out to settle a score, Jack loses the money that will clear his debt with Big Momma Sweet, the queen of Delta vice, whose deep backwoods playground offers sin to all those willing to pay. This same chain of events introduces an unlikely savior in the form of a sultry, tattooed carnival worker. Guided by what she calls her “church of coincidence,” Annette pushes Jack toward redemption in her own free-spirited way, only to discover that the world of Big Momma Sweet is filled with savage danger.
Damaged by regret, crippled by twenty-five years of fists and elbows, heartbroken by his own betrayals, Jack is forced to step into the fighting pit one last time, the stakes nothing less than life or death. With the raw power and poetry of a young Larry Brown and the mysticism of Cormac McCarthy, Michael Farris Smith cements his place as one of the finest writers in the American literary landscape.